Big upheaval in the ranks, what with Liquigas' Giro win and Valverde's banning. Here are the Rankings from the one-third poll. Below I give the three main ranking systems and then I average them to get a composite. Some random comments on the jump.
|VDS Ranking||UCI Ranking||Cycling Quotient Ranking||Composite Ranking|
|1. Liquigas 3889||1 Katusha 575||1. Liquigas 5091||1 Liquigas 1.33|
|2. Saxo 3436||2 Liquigas 566||2. HTC 5016||2 Katusha 3.0|
|3. Astana 3188||3 Astana 525||3. Katusha 4036||3 HTC 3.33|
|4. HTC 2988||4 HTC 497||4. Saxo Bank 3918||4 Astana 4.0|
|5. Katusha 2735||5 BMC 479||5. Rabobank 3561||5 Saxo 4.33|
|6 Rabobank2714||6 *Lotto 464||6. Astana 3439||6 Rabobank 7.33|
|7. Garmin 2360||7 Saxo 426||7. Garmin 3206||7 *Lotto 9.0|
|8. BMC 2210||8 Cervelo 382||8. Radio Shack 3191||8 Garmin 9.66|
|9. *Lotto 2175||9 Caisse 370||9. Caisse 3122||9 BMC 10.33|
|10.Cervelo 2120||10 Lampre 326||10. Lampre 2922||10 Lampre 11.33 (tie)|
|11.Sky 2115||11 Rabobank 311||11 AG2R 2833||10 Radio Shack 11.33 (tie)|
|12 Shack 1850||12 Euskaltel 286||12 *Lotto 2829||12 Caisse 11.66|
|13 QuickStep 1755||13 QuickStep 270||13. Euskaltel 2798||13 Cervelo 13.66 (tie)|
|14 Vacansoleil 1725||14 Shack 267||14 Vacansoleil 2773||13 (tie) Euskaltel 13.66|
|15 Lampre 1680||15 Garmin 261||14 Sky 2742||15 Sky 14.0|
1) Liquigas from an eleventh place tie to first is obviously the big news. Having home court advantage in a Grand Tour is useful. Usually this is the high point of Liquigas' season because they score big at the Giro even when they don't have the winner. Can they change that? Nows the time to see if that Czech on their team can cash in or bounce. (ursula ducks.)
2) Caisse d'Epargne obviously goes down, but only from seventh to twelfth.
3) Quickstep stays in the doldrums. Post-Frankfurt they were ranked 15th. Now they are 16th and just off our table. So far this year if not for Boonen, Lotto is easily the dominant Belgian team and they look to extend that dominance at the Tour.
Top Five teams have a gap on the rest. Liquigas, Katusha, Astana, Saxo, HTC are together the Big Boys of the season. Rabobank is the prime wannabe team. The rest are well back-and should stay that way.
First and second year teams. Sky has dropped back in the rankings and are now 15th, just ahead of Quickstep and Vacansoleil. Not a super team yet but it's to be expected. This winter will be interesting for them as they asses their weaknesses and try to address them.
To look at Sky's future, one could do worse than look at Cervelo and Katusha, the two big second year teams. Recall that last year Cervelo was everyone's darling, finishing a strong fifth at the end of the year. Last winter they pretty much help their had, with the major addition being Tondo (a good add). This year they have slipped in the rankings, currently residing in 13th place. You can say that this is because of injuries to Hushovd, Haussler, and Sastre and strictly speaking you'd be right. But consider how injury-free they were last year and it's easy to imagine that with this veteran team the injury bug is just evening things out with them and probably they are around a 10th place team and not a lofty fifth. It will be interesting to see what they do this winter.
Katusha meanwhile got a lot of flack at PdC and elsewhere. Supposedly they didn't know how to build a team and they did buy two guys who got caught doping. It seemed like their checkbook was the only thing keeping them relevant. Fast forward to now and yeah, they have a nice big budget, but they used it wisely last winter to seriously improve. But let's see them get through Grand Tour season and see if they hold their high ranking. If the likes of J-Rod and company can keep them up then they deserve congratulations for managing their team well. What might be more interesting is if they don't produce a serious Tour threat. Might they be in the Contador sweepstakes? They got the money...